Tracy L. Cross

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Tracy Cross
Born (1958-06-25) June 25, 1958 (age 59)
Tennessee, United States
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Scientific career
Fields Psychology, Gifted Education
Institutions College of William and Mary, Ball State University
Influences Erving Goffman,

Tracy L. Cross (born June 25, 1958, in Tennessee, United States) is an educational psychologist, the Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education at The College of William and Mary. He has previously been the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Gifted Studies Ball State University(2000-2009), the founder and Executive Director of both the Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development (2003-2009), and the Institute for Research on the Psychology of Gifted Students (2007-2009).

Over thirty years, he made important contributions to the field of gifted education, including the development of the school-based conception of giftedness,[1] the information management model,[2] and the continuum of visibility,[2] and was also influential in applying social-cognitive theory and stigma theory to gifted children.[3]


He is the Executive Director of the Center for Gifted Education,[4] and President-Elect of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).[5][6] Cross has published well over 150 articles and book chapters, and four books. He has been the editor of five journals in the field of gifted education (Gifted Child Quarterly, Roeper Review, Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, and Research Briefs), and is the current editor of the Journal for the Education of the Gifted.[7]

Academic work[edit]

Dr. Cross' research interests include the social and emotional lives of gifted children, the psychology of gifted children including personality differences,[8] the phenomenology of giftedness,[9] and suicidology concerns of gifted individuals.[10] His long-time collaboration with Dr. Laurence J. Coleman has result in many articles and two books. Coleman had adapted Erving Goffman's (1963) social stigma theory to gifted children, providing a rationale for why children may hide their abilities and present alternate identities to their peers.[11][12] The first edition of Coleman and Cross' book, Being Gifted In School, is a widely cited reference in the field of gifted education.[13] In the chapter on Coping with Giftedness, the authors expanded on the theory first presented in an 1988 article.[2] According to Google Scholar, this article has been cited at least 110 times in the academic literature.[14]

The Stigma Paradigm of Giftedness[edit]

Erving Goffman's (1963) social stigma theory describes stigmatizing conditions as those attributes which do not conform to the expectations of society and result in social disapproval. Coleman and Cross identified giftedness as a stigmatizing condition, based on research with gifted students and, in part, on a book that was written and edited by 20 teenage, gifted individuals.[15] Psychologists had already known that adolescence is a time of identity development in which children struggle with the desire to have a unique identity yet still conform to the expectations of society. The fact that children viewed their own giftedness as a stigmatizing condition was a new perspective. Being gifted sets students apart from their peers and this differentness interferes with full social acceptance. Different social expectations that exist in the various social contexts that children must navigate and the value judgements that may be assigned to the child result in the child's use of social coping strategies to manage his or her identity. Unlike other stigmatizing conditions, giftedness is a unique type of differentness because it can lead to praise or ridicule depending on the audience and circumstances. Gifted children learn when it is safe for them to display their giftedness and when they should hide their giftedness to better fit in with a group.

The Information Management Model (IMM)[edit]

The Information Management Model (IMM) is a model of the process by which children decide to employ coping strategies to manage their identities.[12][16] This model is based on Bandura's (1986) social-cognitive framework[17] and Goffman's work on the management of identity.[18] In situations where the child feels different, she or he may decide to manage the information that others know about him or her. Strategies include: disidentification with giftedness, trying to maintain a very low visibility (invisibility), or creating a high-visibility identity (playing a stereotypical role associated with giftedness). This range of strategies is called the Continuum of Visibility.[19]

Achievements and awards[edit]

In 2009, Cross received the lifetime achievement award from Mensa in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the field of intelligence and related subjects.[20][21] Mensa had previously recognized his work with three Mensa Outstanding Research Awards, one in 2008[22] and two in 2007.[23][24][25]

Cross has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association for the Gifted and NAGC (2007),[26] the Early Leader Award (1996),[27] Early Scholar Award,[28] and Distinguished Scholar Awards from NAGC (1997).[29]


  1. ^ Cross, Tracy L.; Coleman, Laurence J. (2005). "School-based conception of giftedness". In Robert J. Sternberg and Janet E. Davidson. Conceptions of giftedness (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Angleterre: Cambridge University Press. pp. 52–63. ISBN 978-0521547307. 
  2. ^ a b c Coleman, L.J.; Cross, T. L. (1988). "Is being gifted a social handicap?". Journal for the Education of the Gifted. 11 (4): 41–56. 
  3. ^ Henshon, Suzanna E. (2007). "High‐ability perspectives from a prominent investigator and gatekeeper:An interview with Tracy L. Cross". Roeper Review. 29 (3): 153–158. doi:10.1080/02783190709554402. ISSN 0278-3193. 
  4. ^ "About the Director". College of William and Mary. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ "NAGC". Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Cross elected NAGC President". College of William and Mary. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Journal for the Education of the Gifted". SAGE. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  8. ^ Cross, T.L.; Cassady, J.C.; Dixon, F; Adams, C. (2008). "The psychology of gifted adolescents as measured by the MMPI-A". Gifted Child Quarterly. 52 (4): 326–339. doi:10.1177/0016986208321810. 
  9. ^ Cross, T.L.; Stewart, R.A.; Coleman, L.J. (2003). "Phenomenology and its implications for gifted studies research: Investigating the Lebenswelt of academically gifted students attending an elementary magnet school". Journal for the Education of the Gifted. 26 (3): 201–220. 
  10. ^ Cross, T.L.; Gust-Brey, K; Ball, B. (2002). "A psychological autopsy of the suicide of an academically gifted student: Researchers' and parents' perspectives". Gifted Child Quarterly. 46 (4): 247–264. doi:10.1177/001698620204600402. 
  11. ^ Coleman, Laurence J. (1985). Schooling the Gifted. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. 
  12. ^ a b Coleman, L. J. & Cross, T. L. (2001). Being Gifted in School. Prufrock Press. 
  13. ^ "Google Scholar Search". Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Google Scholar Search". Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ The American Association of Gifted Children (1978). On Being Gifted. Walker and Company. 
  16. ^ Information Management Model in Google Books Version of Being Gifted in School. 
  17. ^ Bandura, Albert (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Prentice Hall. 
  18. ^ Goffman, Erving (1986). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62244-2. 
  19. ^ Cross, Tracy L. (2004). On the social and emotional lives of gifted children :Issues and factors in their psychological development (2nd ed.). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. ISBN 978-1593630027. 
  20. ^ "MENSA Lifetime Achievement Award Description". American Mensa. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Tracy Cross, MENSA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2009". American Mensa. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  22. ^ Cross, T. L.; Cassady, J. C.; Dixon, F. A.; Adams, C. M. (2008). "The Psychology of Gifted Adolescents as Measured by the MMPI-A". Gifted Child Quarterly. 52 (4): 326–339. doi:10.1177/0016986208321810. ISSN 0016-9862. 
  23. ^ "MENSA Award Description". American Mensa. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ "MENSA Awards in Excellence Winners 2007-2008". American Mensa. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  25. ^ Cross, T. L.; Cassady, J. C.; Miller, K. A. (2006). "Suicide Ideation and Personality Characteristics Among Gifted Adolescents". Gifted Child Quarterly. 50 (4): 295–306. doi:10.1177/001698620605000403. ISSN 0016-9862. 
  26. ^ "Distinguished Service Award Recipients". Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Early Leader Award Recipients". Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Early Scholar Award Recipients". Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Distinguished Scholar Award Recipients". Retrieved May 1, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Joyce VanTassel-Baska & Tracy L. Cross (2004). Social and emotional curriculum with gifted and talented students. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. ISBN 1593633491. 
  • Tracy L. Cross; Jennifer Riedl Cross, eds. (2011). Handbook for counselors serving students with gifts and talents. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. ISBN 978-1593638412.